UCF Alumnus Wild about Biology


The UCF College of Sciences’ 2016 Outstanding Biology AlumKnight, Dr. David Breininger, ’09, serves as a Wildlife Biologist with the Ecology Program at the Kennedy Space Center. There, he conducts research on endangered species, habitat and ecosystem dynamics to support adaptive management and develop strategies for restoration, and habitat management.

Recently, Dr. Breininger has been appointed as a research associate, working with UCF Biology professor, Dr. Ross Hinkle, to develop a collaborative relationship between UCF and the NASA’s Ecology Program.

Dr. Breininger graduated from UCF with a doctorate in conservation biology and holds a bachelor’s degree in marine biology and master’s degree in ecology from the Florida Institute of Technology.

During his time as a student at UCF, Dr. Breininger was responsible for developing a Florida Grasshopper Sparrow metapopulation model working with Dr. Reed Noss. His dissertation focused on linking habitat and population dynamics of the Florida scrub-jay. Both are species protected under the Endangered Species Act.

After graduating, he became a Graduate Faculty Scholar assisting graduate students with capture-recapture analyses.

Today, Dr. Breininger furthers his commitment to our environment by sitting on many conservation advisory boards, species and ecosystem recovery teams working with many dozens of natural resource managers from federal, state, and local governments, nonprofits, and private organizations on the integration of science and decision-making.

A renowned published author and lecturer, Dr. Breininger has earned many awards and accolades such as the Conservation Colleague Award from the Nature Conservancy, the JFK Award for Leadership, the Visionary Award, and more. In addition, he recently received the 2016 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director’s Conservation Award.

Dr. Reed Noss presents Dr. David Breininger with his 2016 Outstanding Biology AlumKnight award.

Dr. Reed Noss presents Dr. David Breininger with his 2016 Outstanding Biology AlumKnight award.

The UCF College of Sciences and the UCF Department of Biology are proud to award Dr. Breininger the 2016 Outstanding Biology AlumKnight award for his outstanding success and continued dedication to the University. Dr. Breininger was awarded in March 2016 at the College of Sciences Outstanding AlumKnights awards reception with nine alumni awardees from each of the college’s departments.

Dr. Breininger shared more on his time at UCF and his current positon.

Why did you choose to attend UCF?

I attended UCF because it was close to my job at KSC and I wanted to work with Dr. Reed Noss.

Have you stayed involved with UCF since graduation?

I was appointed a Graduate Faculty Scholar soon after graduation and a Courtesy Research Associate this year. I have been working with Dr. Ross Hinkle in developing greater collaboration between NASA’s Ecology Program and UCF.

What is your best UCF memory?

Spending time at Kissimmee Prairie.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

Confronting data with competing hypotheses.

What is your most memorable experience on the job?

Making new friends in central California.

What piece of advice would you give to current students as well as UCF alumni?

Learn statistical programming in R and publish early.

Dr. Breininger shared some more in the ‘get to know you’ portion of the interview.

Do you have any special/hidden talents?

Detecting movement.

What do you do for fun?

Hiking, fishing, surfing, boating, kayaking, and diving with family.

What’s your favorite holiday and why?

Christmas. My family has many days off.


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